We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

― A quote from the Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus who lived between AD 55 – 135

Bilderesultat for Epictetus

This was one of the first thing I learned from my former mentor.  He told me to be a great leader, one need to listen twice as much as one speaks.

The Power Of Listening

Listening is one of the most powerful tools you as a senior executive have, quite simply because it is the way you can learn about the challenges that exist is in your organization.

Every team has a coach for a reason, every artist a manager, every student a teacher, every protégé, a mentor. It is technically impossible to learn without being taught.

Listening To Others

This one really gets me frustrated, especially when I need to listen to my wife, she never finished to talk….. from joke side.  Believe me I know, I used to be a talker. For a very long time all I did was talk. I somehow felt the need to get in as much as possible, take a quick breath so I could continue speak before anyone could to jump in. I am quite sure you know this kind of person.

My former chairman who also turned out to be a great mentor taught me so many valuable lessons in both business and life.

Even people who consider themselves good leaders, who may actually be good leaders, can walk into a boardroom and say; “this is the elephant in the room, here`s what I think, but I am interested in your opinion. Let go around the table”.

Now it’s too late. As a leader you have already laid down the path of the discussion.

The ability to hold your opinion to yourself until everyone has spoken does two things;

Firstly, it gives everyone else the feeling that they have been heard. It gives everyone else the ability to feel that they have contributed.

Secondly, you get the benefit of hearing what everybody else think before you share your views. The skills are really to keep your mouth zipped.  Simply sit there and listen, take it all in and the only thing you`re allowed to do is ask questions, so you can understand what they mean and why they mean it. You must understand it from their perspective.

As a senior executive you Need To Learn To Zip It

Mr. Terje Skriver was a wise man, he taught me that the key to success lies in understanding others before you expects to be understood. You need to understand not just what they are saying, but why. At the end, you will get your turn. Its sound easy, but it’s hard, I can promise you.

Life is about learning and growing (to me at least). We can’t do either one or both if we just listen to ourselves talk all day. We have to listen to ourselves listen. It’s a major difference.

Most Information Is Free

What senior executive need to understand is that the information is free, they just have to listen more. What people in general like to do, is to talk about them self and their daily struggles. The problem is our egos get in our way and cloud our judgment and we speak instead of listen.

If you are finding yourself talking more than you are listening, my recommendation is that you learn to Zip it and start listen! And Good Luck with that!


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